The McIntosh Trail Early Childhood Development Council, Inc., the non-profit organization which operates the Head Start and Early Head Start programs in Butts, Newton, Henry, Spalding, Lamar, Pike and Upson counties, held one of its thrice-yearly training sessions Feb. 10 and 11.
Along with the various educational and informational sessions offered during the training was a continued emphasis on encouraging healthy lifestyles for the staff and the families of students and staff.
With Valentine's Day and its connection to the heart, and with February being American Heart Association Month, those attending the training on Feb. 11 were encouraged to wear red to show awareness of the need to work for healthy hearts. The vast majority of those attending the training from the seven counties joined the effort by donning items of bright red and standing together in front of the Butts County Head Start Facility for a picture.
They had listened to a presentation about staying healthy with preventive care earlier that morning and had watched a demonstration of the "I'm Moving, I'm Learning" program used in the Head Start classrooms.
"Wellness Wednesdays" are a good-natured competition between the centers at the seven counties. Participants make time to work out, have blood pressure checks, cholesterol checks, and screenings for diabetes, breast cancer, and prostrate cancer. They receive insurance points for their efforts and feel personal and group pride. Each center encourages the family members of its students to join the activities.
The centers all have events tying heart health to Valentine's Day and the theme color red to raise awareness of heart health, according to Catricia Gwyn, a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) for McIntosh Trail Early Childhood Development Council, who is responsible for Henry, Butts, Spalding, and Upson counties.
Gwyn said that McIntosh Trail is donating to Hoops for Heart through the public school fundraiser in Upson County. Some of the money raised through the staff paying to wear red on Feb. 11 was donated to the Child Advocacy campaign of the Georgia Head Start Association and Region IV Head Start Association. The Butts County center is holding a Red and White Ball from 6 to 8 p.m., on Friday, Feb. 18 as part of its Fatherhood Initiative.
The goal is to help keep the physical hearts of the McIntosh Trail staff and families healthy so that they can continue using their hearts to care for the children in their centers and giving the children examples of how to maintain healthy lifestyles.
Gwyn said that in "I'm Moving, I'm Learning," the children learn to listen to their hearts saying "Bump, bump ... bump, bump ... thank you...thank you."